Jan Löfström

Historical identities and the "deep narratives" embedded in history have a major impact as motivating factors for human action.

“I am a professor of Historical-Social Education at the University of Turku. In my research I have dealt with topics closely related to the field of activity of the association. One of them is dealing with difficult history in the form of institutional reparations such as apologies. In 2012, my edited volume on this topic was published Voiko historiaa hyvittää? Historiallisten vääryyksien korjaaminen ja anteeksiantaminen (Gaudeamus). Another area of interest has been the relationship between history and morality in people’s thinking, on which Niklas Ammert, Silvia Edling, Heather Sharp and I published in 2022 Historical and moral consciousness in education: learning ethics for democratic citizenship education (Routledge).

What is fascinating about these topics is how issues of identity and morality are linked to the perception of historical relationships between different things. After all, the most historically valid interpretation is not always the most socio-psychologically appealing, and historical identities and the ‘deep stories’ (sociologist Arlie Hochschild’s deep story) that are embedded in history have a major influence as motivating factors for human action. As individuals, historians are probably no more immune to it than others, but as a community, historians can set an example of how to collectively analyse and evaluate clashing interpretations of history. Whether the result is a commonly accepted interpretation and how it is received by the wider public and policy-makers is a separate matter. However, despite the subtle pessimism, I believe that it is better to try to do something than to do nothing in order to further the objectives of our association.

I came to the inaugural meeting of our association because its aim is relevant to the research and development of history education in my field of work. I am happy to be available for cooperation between history teachers and our association, which is already being built up within the board. It is an important direction of cooperation because teachers have experience of how citizens learn the skills of historical knowledge formation, which is at the heart of the historian’s work. In addition, teachers in schools see a wide range of ways in which citizens encounter history, deal with historical controversies and work through issues of identity and morality related to history. Teachers have a perspective on what history means to citizens and the conflicts that arise from these perceived meanings. These teachers’ experiences can be of great help in furthering the aims of HWB.”

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